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Author Nursepreneur

Janine Kelbach – Author, Nursepreneur

Meet the Nurse Writer who keeps the Healthcare Marketing Network on Track!

Today on The Savvy Scribe Carol Bush interviews an author, freelance writer, researcher, and OB/GYN Nurse, and the Operations Manager for the Healthcare Marketing Network, Janine Kelbach. Did we mention that Janine is also married, a mom and has two Great Danes? There must be eating and sleeping in her life but we sure can’t figure out when! Get to know Janine Kelbach on this episode of The Savvy Scribe.

Janet:                                00:00                   Welcome to The Savvy Scribe, a podcast for freelance healthcare and medical writers and creatives who want to grow their businesses. Your hosts, Carol Bush and Janine Kelbach will cover a wide range of topics on writing, sales and managing your freelance practice podcast episodes. We’ll feature interviews, inspiration, laughter, and important information to help healthcare freelance writers. The Savvy Scribe is a production of the Healthcare Marketing Network. Now let’s join the conversation.

Carol:                        00:34                   I’m so excited today. Savvy scribes I have a very special guest. In fact, I’ve been so psyched for this. I could hardly sleep last night because in our community, so many of you have given us feedback about our episodes and one of the many questions I’m getting is, well, we want to hear your story. How did you connect with Janine and Janet? And we want to hear everyone’s writer’s story or entrepreneur’s stories. So today I am excited to be able to interview my pal, my buddy, my work BFF, Janine Kelbach.

Janine:                        01:11                   Hello. It’s just a normal day on Zoom for us.

Carol:                        01:16                   It is, because I don’t know that people know this, but and this is something to learn that zoom is actually a great tool that we use not only for collaboration and virtual meetings to hold one another accountable in our coworking sessions, but also we use it to record our podcast episodes and we get to see each other. I know in and I think that’s the biggest part about being work BFFs and accountability partners. We definitely do have that connection. Before we dive into the whole power of accountability and your own specific hour of power, which you’re known for in our savvy scribe community. Janine, I’d love for you just to tell us a little bit about your story. What led you to launch your business as a freelance writer?

Janine:                        02:15                   All right, well it started way back. No, not way back. So my youngest little guy, I have two kids. One is going to be 14 it’s here soon and the other one is six. When I was pregnant with the six year old, I don’t know, something told me I’m going to have to be home a little more, whether because of that child or because of life. So it was cause of the child. He’s a little crazy. When he was born I knew that I was going to have to stay home. So I actually had a maternity leave with him that got me thinking after that whole, you know, getting the mom thing down again after having a nice break between the kids, I was at a point of, well what else I do? What else can I do? What else can I do? I started doing a side job because I was sick of picking up the overtime in my unit. I am labor and delivery nurse and I love what I do. I love my patients, but it will get, it was getting to a point that I wasn’t liking it and then I knew I was just burning myself out. So my sister in law who also works with me, we got a job together and we started at a company that we traveled around Cleveland, Ohio, where I’m from and gave high risk pregnant women injections of progesterone if they were high risk for preterm delivery. So we, we’ll do that. It was great. I only had to report to a boss if I had problems. Otherwise I did all the charting from home and I would take a patient load and it was a great cat annuity with the patient. I’d see her from week 16 to 36 so weekly I would go out and see her, which it sounds great, but these are also the inner city of Cleveland, east Cleveland, very, very dangerous areas. So you know, I have this newborn at home hustling, you know, on my days off just to be home more with him and in my other son too. And my husband. But it got to a point, they cut our pay to about a third of what we were making. And I also got bit by a dog down there too. So I was like, okay, something’s got to give here. I actually had to carry a gun down there and got my concealed carry because my patients are telling me to. And it was very dangerous. So my husband made the executive decision because I loved my patients that we had to do something else. So my grandma was also at that time dying of cancer and I was at her bedside a lot. So I was just googling and googling and googling what can a nurse do from home, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I didn’t really want to work for like an insurance company or something like that. So I ended up finding freelance writing after many searches. And I always enjoyed writing, but I don’t have like a journalism degree or English major or whatever. So I didn’t know if I could really do it. And so I literally just tried and I don’t want to say blew up, but I got some jobs and I realized I could make some money from home. And that’s the gist of it. Very, very brief story of it.

Carol:                        05:15                   And I love that story. And it’s not an like other stories that we get as we’re working with people transitioning to a freelancing career as a health writer looking for options. Maybe there’s you know, the age transition or as you said, they’ve experienced a cut in pay a lay off retirement for example. So a lot of people are looking for options and also you know, your family balancing career and family as well as another reason that we hear a lot is people are going to care giving role. So maybe it’s caring for your own child you’ve recently had  or an adult parent, etc. Or caring for ourselves because actually we have a lot of people in our community who have chronic illnesses and they’re not able to return to work in the same way and they still want to practice as a health professional. So I love that. All of those multiple reasons really led you to establish your business as a freelance writer. So I like a lot of nurses and healthcare professionals have a creative side that we don’t get to let go because we’re in a very, I don’t want to say structured, but you use your brain a lot in a different type of way as a writer versus a nurse and it’s something that got me to do that. So it was definitely different. And because as you said, you loved the patients and the education component teaching people about health information, wellness processes like self injections or whatever.

Carol:                        06:58                   You already have the foundation of teaching others about health related information as well. So you told us a little bit about what led you to start your business, but about how long ago was that again, at what point did you get traction and what tools or what led to that do you think?

Janine: That’s a good question. So I started, Jimmy was born in 2012 and October, so probably 2013 was the year. I just started writing a little bit and I’m so nerdy. Carol, I saved just to look back on like my first, first time I started making money. I’ve put like February and wrote the number March, and I tell you, because it makes me laugh now. I wasn’t even telling my husband, my sisters, my kids, I didn’t tell anyone I was doing this because I’m like, they’re gonna think I’m crazy. The numbers were just steadily going up. Not Thousands, not millions, you know, nothing crazy but an article here in article there. So then I started having a little portfolio and I was looking not at health care writers, but just freelance writers to see how to do it. And again, it was navigating the waters of a lot of googling. There are some people out there that I didn’t hire anybody because there wasn’t anybody to hire back then that I could find in the space that I wanted to work in. So I looked at a lot of blog posts back then and in 2015 it really took off to a point that my husband and I were like, let’s, I eventually told him, obviously he gets a super secret and making the way I made $10,000 this year. And he’s like, what? I like, I just thought it was kind of dumb. So I didn’t think you believe doing, doing well. I kind of do this when, when Jimmy sleeping. Oh, okay. So I, so in 2015, I launched the business, he helped me get the LLC and everything and that’s when I started like making sure I had a business account versus my personal account. And yeah, so it, that’s usually, that’s when it took off in a point of just writing and then I started expanding it and 2016 with the coaching and things like that.

Carol:                        09:25                   Okay, perfect. So you mentioned for me a very magic number, 2016, right? 2016. I’m a little bit nerdy to Janine because I’ve had to go back and track because everything we do on the Internet folks, right? We can find, I can find you just like Liam Neeson again taken, I always have to quote Liam Neeson. I will find you everything on the Internet, whether we’re making a connection on linkedin or were tweeting or on Facebook and those connections that we make on social media, we can go back and track. And I was very curious to know when exactly the timing of connecting with Janet, you several of our first clients and other people and it turns out that 2016 was the stellar year. So I actually connected with not very many people know this. I connected with Janet via a tweet on January 11th of 2016 and then I saw Janine, you and I met on Linkedin and when was that?

Janine:                        10:41                   October 4th of 2016 and I remember exactly what I was doing because I was so excited to connect with another writer who was a nurse and I want to say excited. I was like also like nervous, like I thought you were like the greatest person ever, Carol. I still do remember my little guy, right? The little baby who was where I started the business. He was what? He just turned four, two days earlier and we’re at the park and you always look crazy. You scream it and play it. And I’m like, oh my gosh, she’s gonna think I’m a bad mom. What is she going to think? I’m so unprofessional because my kid is playing at the park. For what do we do? We just had a normal conversation. We were on the same page and we kind of knew the same kind of story, but it was just very awesome. Like I was like, I remember hanging up the phone going, she is awesome. Like we connected and we have that same vision of helping other people do this too. So it was awesome. That’s what I remember of it.

Carol:                        11:48                   And again, we met on Linkedin but we used him to meet virtually. And not very many people know this either. But we’ve worked together since 2016 and never met in person until last November. So the power of virtual tools and collaboration is definitely huge. What I love about that is also the connections we made. This is something else people might not know and I think this is why as a CEO of our own business, to be successful as a freelancer, we need a community and we need connections and we need an accountability partner. And what I saw immediately that I think helped us connect was I’m very much a quick start personality. So I’m the kind that jumps off the cliff and I figure out how to build the parachute on the way down. And I have known for years that if I wanted to get anything done, I had to surround myself with people who got stuff done or are implementers. And Actually Janine, you’re one of the most productive people I’ve ever met in my life. And I think that balance for us made sense and, and we’ve kind of worked with that through taking a test, basically an assessment that’s called the Colby a k o, l, B, e a. And it’s not a personality test. It determines how we take action. And it’s been fun because we have worked together since 2016 but we only recently took that Colby a and how we take action. And what did you learn from that about accountability and maybe this dynamic, like why we work so well together as coworkers and accountability partners?

Janine:                        13:38                   Well remember back when I said like my husband didn’t know about my business until I started making money. I think you probably think it’s crazy that I did that because you’re building the parachute on the way down. Whereas I’m building the parachute before we’re even thinking about flying the pair of shoe. So I definitely always like to know, not that I know it’s gonna work, but I need to know the steps in which things happen. So for example, just anything, anything that we decided we’re going to do as a project, especially in Hmn or my own business or even life. I research in research and research and research. So much show point that I know more about the topic than I ever wanted to know. And sometimes it’s almost information overload where it’s like, I can’t even think about where to start again because now I know way too much. So in the Kolbie a, what I’ve learned is that I am not a quick start person. I’m a fact finder and it’s a really cool test because the way it tells you at the end is how to basically start your day and how you use the Kolbie to accelerate your day and get more things done, which is obviously what I love to do. I get, I love trying to get things done. Like if I have a to do list I want to get it done or I don’t feel accomplished. And I think to be a successful CEO of her own freelance business because folks, that’s definitely what we are. We need to tackle a lot of mindset issues. So fear. So sometimes we see people who are fact finders, do so much research, they have the fear to start. And then there are those of us as CEOs of our freelance business that are always starting. But we’re always starting starting here, starting there. Oh, rabbit, next little shiny objects syndrome. So this is why the power of our community is, hey, find your work BFF or your accountability partner. And the power of the Healthcare Marketing Network has been that because we have the multiple disciplines, multiple career stages, that we have a lot of people at different stages that can share resources and be an accountability for one another in setting goals, setting those targets, making marketing outreach, et cetera.

Carol:                        15:59                   Well, I think with that, Kolbie, again, another thing that helps us work so well together is because you are the start, start, start. But I’m the one going, wait, we didn’t have a finish. Wait, we never did that. Wait, hold on. Where does this end? You know, I’m that follow through person and it’s great because in it it gives you some strategies for using your strengths to take action. So I learned, I’m very visual and even it’s hard for me to write anymore because I have some perfectionist tendencies. So sitting down to write something, I can’t do it because I don’t have the time. So now instead of writing I speak it. And that has made a big difference and that’s a great strategy for people. And Janine, maybe you can share in some of your writing coaching with writers. Sometimes they’ll say, can you yourself did this actually earlier say, hey, I don’t know that I feel like I’m a great writer. I don’t have a creative degree or I don’t have a journalist decree, but you don’t have to be a great writer. You can use the awesome tools and apps that we have available. And even just a simple thing like the Google docs talk to text is perfect. And then you can edit that. I want to wrap around and revisit a little bit about the accountability and where earlier I said, you know, early on I figured out you’re one of the most productive people I know and in our community you’re actually known now and we coined the term because you are the queen of Productivity, but you’ve done a special thing so we can almost brand. You have your hour of power. So tell me a little bit about the hour of power. How did that get started and how do you use that to move your goals forward in your writing business?

Janine:                        17:56                   So the hour of power, I don’t even know how it got that name. I think you named it that honestly, Carol, well it started when I was by myself doing my business before it was the business and I only had an hour. Well maybe I had an hour and a half. By the time I got my little guy down for a nap, I had an hour. So I had to know exactly what I was doing for that hour, shut off everything, notifications, whatever. After this someone came to the door, they’re going to ruin my plan here. And then I would just work, work, work, work, work. And that carried me through and starting my business, the hour of power, it doesn’t always have to be the same hour. You know, some days we didn’t have, some days we went to the zoo or whatever we were doing. So then my hour of power, he had to change to get up earlier.  And that’s personally how I do better. Like some people are late night, people that can write, I couldn’t. and then it changed when he went to preschool and my hour of power was during preschool time. I was going for my BSN too. So I had to write papers and stuff. Oh, our power kick that in right there. And now nowadays we have hours of power together on zoom. We do our coworking sessions together to brainstorm and batch, which we could talk about in a whole new episode. But yeah, it’s definitely a game changer and it’s something I tell everybody to adapt because it’s just taken an hour and doing the doing the stuff, whether that’s the stuff you don’t want to do or stuff you have to do, but it’s doing the stuff that you have planned already. Don’t sit there and plan because that’s not productive enough.

Carol:                        19:33                   I think that was one of the biggest productivity tip learned from you over the course of knowing you since 2016 was just the value that batching and focus, getting things done and turning off all notifications. I even put my phone downstairs and I’m upstairs. But the power of accountability with a likeminded colleague is really important. so then Janine and I, we not only hold ourselves accountable for in our writing business, for specific goals related to the Healthcare Marketing Network, we’re also accountability partners for health. So he actually, challenge one another when we’re working out or making that commitment to be healthy as well.

Janine:                        20:24                   So here’s a challenge to you listeners. I hope you listen to this when you were walking or something like that. Actually, that’s my favorite thing to do on a treadmill is listened to a podcast or if I’m taking a walk, is listening to a podcast.

Carol:                        20:39                   And that’s perfect because that’s also one of the things when we were dreaming up the saddest bribe, that’s what we’d love to do. We love to walk as we’re to podcasts. And so that’s why we even dreamt up they interim using being very upbeat and powerful and that we hope that we are always encouraging and motivating.

Janine:                        20:59                   Should we share that when we met each other, when we were picking out podcasts, music, we are dancing in the hotel room.

Carol:                        21:06                   I think Janet thought we were crazy. She’s like, yeah, you know, if you pick this music, you’re going to need to be pretty upbeat. I don’t think that’s a problem.

Janine:                        21:15                   So true.

Carol:                        21:17                   So one of the things I am so very excited always for our community, and especially you because you’re my work BFF, is when people really leverage their thought leadership and they tackle a project that they might not ever have dreamt of saying. I’m talking about that you are an author of a book entrepreneurs and it was released in 2018 correct? Yes, yes. Finally. So tell us a little bit about that book and Yes, there’ll be a link in the show notes as well as the link to the Colby a and everything else that we’ve described. And I’m hoping, Janine, I can talk you into autographing a couple of these are listeners and night loves to be able to give a couple of way that are autographed by Janine.

Janine:                        22:10                   Yes. That autograph because it’s so cool. Thank you. So the way it came about, I was interviewing a bunch of nurses for a blog that somebody hired me to write. It was nurse entrepreneurs and we were just going around and I connected with a bunch of people via linkedin and Facebook and Twitter. I reached out to them, had them fill out a short form and then I would connect with them on zoom or the telephone and interviewed them. Everybody was so different, but so the s so much the same and it was all geared towards the fact of there’s other roles for nurses outside the hospital and we aren’t taught that in nursing school. We aren’t taught business in nursing school and it’s so intimidating to so many people. The business side of a healthcare profession in a sense. I put the book together and I structured it.  It was changed a lot because the structure at first I was just going to do like an interview. Then I was going to clump it together, but long story short, I ended up asking a lot of the same questions that people want an answered, how did you start? How much can I make? What kind of degree do I need? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And yeah, so it was like 36 37 different people that I interviewed. So that was awesome. And then, okay, cool. So I wrote it and then I’m like, well now what? Oh the do now. So Deanna Gillingham who I love, she helped me publish it. It was a great experience, an awesome experience like with her. And she guided me right through it and then it got real, you know, like I kept writing it, getting up early, writing it right now, right now. And then when I got it and my hands and it was real, it was probably the best thing ever. I was like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I really did this. Well you know, when did the things I love about this is not only that you set your sails, you said your course and you were persistent and you’ve got the interviews and you made the commitment and you worked with Deanna to publish the book. But the project actually, you didn’t start out to write a book. It actually was a project. Like you said, someone had hired you to do blogs and so you actually made a pivot and repurposed those interviews into your book. So I thought that basically with his permission, yes. Back and forth. And the other thing I, I could have worked with anybody to publish it, right. But Deanna is a nurse and I thought well who better than to have a nurse help? We published. So I thought that was awesome. I had to keep it in the nurse world and also someone who’s a valued member of the Healthcare Marketing Network. And she had offered, I believe at that time too because she actually has some wonderful, she’s built her whole business on publishing a book. The case manager’s studied by. Yes. So it’s phenomenal. And at that time she had offered to coach three people and self publishing a book and I believe two out of the three have yourself included. So all three did. Yeah. So it was awesome.

Carol:                        25:33                   A hundred percent a hundred percent return on investment, their say. So that’s another example of how awesome it is that you can pivot and that you’re knowing who you’re using, your connections and your tribe to ask for. How also the fact that within the Healthcare Marketing Network, the savage describe community. That’s why we really focused on really building a community of abundance where we are lifting one another up for collaboration and encouragement. So I think one thing I would love to know, and you know our community, they’re always asking us questions and one of our tribe members head, but you know, I don’t just want to hear the stories of success. I want to hear about when you failed too. So in our community, as you know, we don’t look at failure as failure. Failure’s just like part of the journey. And I really liked to reframe those and the mindset that their setbacks that we need to go over, under, around or through. So I’d love for you to talk about in your writing career, what back have you experienced that led to the greatest growth in your business and what actions did you take to turn a negative into a positive?

Janine:                        26:56                   There’s a lot of writing jobs up there. Believe it or not. That’s why we do, you know, rising tides lift all boats. There were jobs in the beginning that I would take from people that aren’t what we call good humans in a sense. And I took the job or thought about taking the jobs in the future. I’ll get to how I pivoted it, but I took the jazz because they pay money and I need money to grow. And I thought it was the right thing to do. Didn’t know that there was better people out there. So I took the jabs and there’s something in your gut, you know, I was listening to your gut that made me think this isn’t the best job. This isn’t the best company to work for. This isn’t the best person to work for. I don’t really like working for them. And I was always on the hunt to find something a little different. So I pivoted to finding better clients and meaning the values, what their mission of their businesses and the types of people they hire. And beyond that, I did that in my own life. And in 2018 I remember starting that year and I said, I am not going to be around people that are negative and that will bring me down and that don’t believe in, in me or my family or in decisions that we make. And I still stick to that. And it’s always, are they a good human? If they’re a good human, I like them, I want to work with them. That’s my philosophy. So I learned though, so if I could change that, I would go back and not not do that, but live and learn. Right. And I think there’s a lot of things I’ve done in my business that just didn’t work out. Do you give it a little bit of time and sometimes some money and you realize it doesn’t work and then you got to just pivot a little bit? I think we’ve done that with Healthcare Marketing Network and I think when we met for the first time, finally, right in Orlando, we, we kind of looked at that and we never stopped. We always pivoted towards something different and hopefully better. And it is. It’s a lot of that throw it to the wall and see if it sticks attitude when you have your own business. But I will say the network of people is what keeps you going and if you don’t engage, even if it’s just online, you’re not going to get forward in your business because you’re going to feel alone. You’re going to feel burnout and you’re gonna feel like you can’t move on because you’ve done something and you failed.

Carol:                        29:24                   Definitely because it is, as you said in the beginning, in our business, no matter what, whether it’s your writing business or as a consultant, you are looking at who is my ideal client? What are my service offerings? What brings me joy? Before Marie Kondo made it a seeing, I was like, no, I’m only going to work. Do the kind of work that brings me joy because as you alluded to earlier in their conversation, possibly in our corporate life, we’ve had some dissatisfaction or an environment that didn’t bring us joy. When it’s my business, I want to do things that bring me joy.

Janine:                        30:03                   And in the corporate world, if people out there listening have been there, it’s almost funny. There’s been people to say to me, well why is Janine always so happy? Like they’re actually mad that you’re happy.

Carol:                      30:16                   That’s another great reason that a community, a tribe is important because we’re the ones who celebrate with you and we’re also the people who can support you with strength. You know, you’ve had some difficult times, whether personally or professionally, no one else, but your tribe or going to understand all of those things. It’s important, as Janine said, to, you know, reach out, connect and maybe build a work BFF relationship like we have or working with the Healthcare Marketing Network in accountability. Definitely. So, and then a little bit, I’m going to ask you a question about three things people would be surprised to know about you. But before I dig into that, can you share with us how can people work with you and how do they reach you?

Janine:                        31:07                   So you can work with me by either connecting with me in our Facebook group. You could just message me easy enough or on Linkedin easy enough or you can go to my website, write like you’re writing a book, RN, dot net.

Carol:                        31:22                   Perfect. And then also in the Healthcare Marketing Network, we’ve got a nice team page. What about on Linkedin?

Janine:                        31:30                   Just connect with me on linkedin. Janine Kelbach messaged me, sent me a little note, tell me who you are, a little bit about you. I’d love to connect with people.

Carol:                        31:38                   Perfect. And we’ll have all of those links in the show notes. So now one of my favorite parts of the interview. So we’ve talked a little bit about your beginning story and maybe not everyone knew that you were an author. What is three other things people might be surprised to know about you?

Janine:                        31:55                   I’m lefthanded that sounds good, right? Yay. I have an identical twin and she also is a nurse and she also runs her own little side business. The third thing is that I’m, I’m actually older than my husband and we’ve known each other since we were in grade school.

Carol:                        32:15                   I think that’s perfect. I love it. All of those things and I actually didn’t even know you were left handed. Really? Yeah, that is cool. My brother’s lefthanded creativity.

Janine:                        32:23                   That’s how you get every time you say you’re left handed. Oh, my mom’s left handed.

Carol:                        32:31                   I love that. Janine, thank you so much for taking this, everyone. I know that you’ve getting to know a little bit more about Janine love for you to share the episode if you found it valuable, and we’d love to hear feedback. What are some things that you’ve gotten out of the episode? Thank you so much for the emails, for giving us the ratings on iTunes. We really appreciate that and I think that it’s time to sign off. So Janine, I think I’ll let me do go get your write on.

Janet:                        33:07                   Thanks for listening to The Savvy Scribe, a podcast for freelance healthcare and medical writers. For more tips and links mentioned in the podcast, go to Healthcare Marketing Network.com and don’t forget to join Carol and Janine for future power episodes and great conversations here at The Savvy Scribe.

Patty Weasler BSN, RN, CCRN

The 3 Most Important Things I Learned My First Year as a Freelance Health Writer

If you’re like me, the first year of freelance writing is full of ups and downs. In my first year, I made money, gained clients, lost clients and learned more than I had ever bargained for!

At the beginning of my writing career, I had a hard time focusing on the core issues to develop my business. I found that I was spending too much time on tasks that weren’t vital to my success and not enough time on the things that were.

I’m here to tell you the three most important things I learned in my first year as a freelance writer, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did!

3 Lessons The First Year of Freelancing

1. Find a Mentor

When I started freelancing I had so many questions. What’s a pitch? How do I even write a pitch? How much should I charge? I quickly realized that I needed help.

Internet searching wasn’t cutting it. I needed help from an experienced freelancer, someone that I could ask questions of and get guidance from. That’s when my friend and now writing coach, took me under her wing and guided me every step of the way.  

With a writing coach or mentor, I knew that I was getting accurate information from an expert.

I could have searched the internet to find bits and pieces of the information I needed. However, having someone who has already gone through the process helped to develop my business with my goals in mind.

It’s hard to ask for help, and it’s even harder to pay for help. I get it. But in the long run, I learned the information faster, more accurately and had more fun doing it!

2. Be Persistent

My first year as a freelance writer I knew that it would take work but I never could’ve dreamt how much work. I wanted to give up. Editors weren’t accepting my pitches, writing boards weren’t showing any great leads. I was stuck.

Yet, I kept at it. I kept pitching, writing and blogging. It took time and a whole lot of persistence but one day I received an email from an editor. A company actually wanted ME to write for them.

Whenever I felt like my business wasn’t progressing, I had to keep moving. I suggest joining a writing group with people in your writing niche. It’s a great way to both network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Another tactic to keep myself moving forward was to stay accountable to something or someone. I like to have a writing schedule with blocks of time devoted to work. You might find having a friend or coach keeping you on track works. Find something that works for you and stick with it. Progress will happen!

3. Just Do It

Nike knows what they’re talking about. When it comes to writing, Just Do It!

My first year, I was nervous and hesitant. I didn’t want to make mistakes. I let fear slow me down. I questioned every move I made. Once I let go of the fear I started writing. I gained the confidence to develop a website and write blog posts, articles and so much more!

If you’re having a hard time making the first move like I was, try not to overthink it. Start writing blog posts or journal privately to get the creative juices flowing. Just the act of writing will spur new ideas and give you the motivation to move on to bigger and better projects.

Take my advice: find a mentor, stay persistent and just do it. After a year of ups and downs, these three lessons always held true to my freelance writing wins.  

– Patty weasler, RN, CCRN Freelance Writer

Another tip to get started is to write what you know. It’s so much easier to jump into freelance writing when you’re writing about things you know well. I’m a nurse and mom, so it’s easy to write about health and parenting topics. If you love gardening or photography you’ll find writing about those topics comes naturally.

The saying, “nothing worth having comes easy” is a phrase that I repeat to myself when I’m in doubt or struggling.

That first year of freelancing can be tough! How are you going to make it through your first year? Take my advice: find a mentor, stay persistent and just do it. After a year of ups and downs, these three lessons always held true to my freelance writing wins.  

 

 

 

Carol J. Bush, BS, RN

A Strong Content Plan Starts With A Creative Brief (Template)

The Creative Brief: An Insurance Policy for Developing Awesome Content

Ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach, without a list? Before you know it you’ve chucked healthy choices out the window, grabbed anything that looks good and blown your budget, only to find yourself with a pantry full of cheat day groceries and a guilty conscience.

Think of the creative brief as your shopping list. It provides a framework for your content plan, ensuring the creative team understands your goals and how to authentically represent your brand, voice and messaging. Like a shopping list, the brief describes what you want without dictating how to get there or the exact words to use. Without it, your compelling vision could wind up looking like the Supermarket Sweep of content rather than a coherent, on-point story.

Effective Creative Briefs Articulate Your Brand Attributes With Clarity and Assurance

Read more

What no one tells you about working from home (with a baby)

What No One Tells You About Working from Home (With a Baby)

“I need a job where I can work from home.”

“We need a second income to make ends work.”

“How can I stay home with my baby and make more money?”

I see these comments all the time on Facebook mommy groups and my heart goes out to these mothers. As a work-at-home mom, I completely understand the desire to be home with your baby and needing a supplemental income. It’s why I do what I do.

But unsurprisingly, there were things no one told me before I took the plunge and started working from home.

Flexible Hours Can Be Dangerous

When I talk to people about my work, they often respond, “Wow. It must be nice to have such a flexible schedule!”

Yes, it is. As long as my work is done, and done well, my clients don’t care if I work seven hours one day because the baby is in a great mood and took all her naps, and only work one hour the next day because she’s teething and screamed from morning till night.

However, unless you are really great with boundaries, flexible hours can mean working when you should be off-duty, and convincing yourself to never really take time off because you can always “make it up” later by working more another time. It also means that clients get used to receiving your emails at all hours of the night, and may think you’re always available (when you’re really just responding at 3 a.m. because the baby is awake).  

Forget The To Do List

I’m a type-A, check-off-the-list kind of girl. I worked from home for a year before having my daughter, and the experience is like night and day.

Pre-baby, the only interruptions to my work day were those I allowed in: Facebook, afternoon coffee time and binge-watching Gilmore Girls. Now? I might have a nicely structured list of five projects to complete, but by the end of the day I might have only completed half of a single task.

Some days, just keeping the baby alive is an accomplishment. I’ve learned to ask for reasonable deadlines that leave me lots of wiggle room, and to never say, “Oh, I’ll get it done tomorrow” if I have time today. Tomorrow could be a disaster, so I can’t procrastinate.

The Loneliness Is Real

Right now, I work between 15 and 20 hours per week. In many ways, working part-time from home gives me the best of both worlds. I get to stay at home with my daughter and don’t have to pay for childcare, but I still get to enjoy the extra income (and mental stimulation!) that having a job brings.

However, it certainly brings its own challenges. Moms who work outside the home typically have co-workers to talk to throughout the work week. They enjoy adult conversations and corporate friendships. Stay-at-home moms who aren’t working part-time are able to make friends through playdates and mommy-and-me-classes.

If I didn’t work, I’d have 15-20 hours per week to dedicate to making friends and planning activities with my daughter. Instead, when I’m not working, I’m trying to spend quality time with the baby and tend to chores. This makes it hard to carve out time during my week to strengthen friendships even though I know I ought to.

It’s Completely Worth It (And Totally Possible)

Flexible hours are a minefield, it’s almost impossible to plan accurately and yes, it does get lonely. Despite these downsides, working from my big comfy chair instead of an office is perfect for me right now.

I’m right here for all my daughter’s “firsts.” I’m not worrying about whether daycare is giving her enough tummy time and I don’t have to pump during my breaks.

Although I sometimes find myself sifting through emails long after 5 P.M., I love being able to take time off when I need to (or want to). Like after a night of really bad sleep or during a beautiful day when I’d like to go for a walk.

And even though I don’t have enough unscheduled time to do lots of out-of-the-home activities, the financial security that comes with my paycheck helps calm my anxieties. You know the ones – paying off debt, saving for a down payment on a home and – yikes – helping my daughter go to college.

Some people will react negatively when you decide to work from home, but don’t let that discourage you. I heard a lot of negative comments when I started, but I’m here to say that despite the challenges, there are great rewards. It might just be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself and your family.

Are you are work-at-home mom? What are some things no one ever told you?

 

Full-Time to Freelance_ 8 Steps to a Smoother Transition

Full-Time to Freelance: 8 Steps to a Smoother Transition

I recently closed the books on my first quarter as a full-time healthcare communications free agent. I’d been fantasizing about going out on my own for years, and then I received a much-needed kick in the pants in the form of getting downsized from my six-figure corporate communications job.

Talk about getting thrown in the deep end fully clothed!

Luckily, I had already taken a few steps toward making the break, so my entry into this new professional phase wasn’t as rocky as it could’ve been. My business is still in its infancy, but I do have some tips to help you transition from a full-time salaried position to the ebbs and flows of freelance work!

1. Stash the Cash

Work can be unsteady, and there’s always a lag between the time you submit your invoice to your client and when the check appears in your mailbox. If possible, sock away two to three months of income to provide a monetary safety net while your business ramps up and income becomes steadier.

2. Put the WORK in Network

Who knows your work better than your former colleagues? Whether you’ve been a nurse for 20 years or a corporate marketer for five, you’ve probably been building your professional network on LinkedIn. Ask contacts for recommendations or leads for freelance opportunities. I sent a message to about 40 contacts to let them know that I was no longer in my previous role and that I’d launched my own business. I got five leads instantly, and quite a few provided recommendations or other words of encouragement. Leverage your network to accelerate your business’s growth – and save time and money on client acquisition.

3. Write

Even if you don’t have a paying gig at the moment, keep writing. Start your own blog, write a guest post for another blog or publish posts on LinkedIn. Get your name out there anyway that you can. Be personal in your approach, and share what you’ve learned in your professional journey. Start telling your story, and soon you’ll be equipped to tell someone else’s.

4. Front Load your Week

It’s Monday, and your nearest deadline isn’t until Friday. Time to grab coffee and watch Rachael Ray, right? As strong as that siren song is, you’ve got to prioritize.

Do the work when you’ve got the work, because who knows if you’re going to get a call tomorrow from a client with a big project, and you need to be able to accommodate work that may come your way. Knock out as much as you can on Monday and Tuesday, then use the rest of the week to pitch new clients, write posts for your blog, beef up your social media platforms or get invoices in the mail. And if a call or email comes in, you’ve got the bandwidth to tackle another paying gig that week. And speaking of paying gigs…

5. Invoice Instantly

Every day that you’re not sending out an invoice is a day you’re not getting paid. I now send the invoice with the assignment. In sales, the mantra is ABC: Always Be Closing. While not as catchy, in freelance work, it’s ABI: Always Be Invoicing.

6. Bundle Up

When accepting a single assignment, try to turn it into a more sustainable engagement. Just one blog post? Offer to turn it into a series or bundle it with a package of social media posts. And, don’t be afraid to offer a discount if it makes sense.

7. Don’t Forget Stats and Strategy

Some projects are straightforward; the client wants X and you can deliver X. But for those projects that are more complex, use your proposal to showcase your results and unique experience. If you’re proposing a content strategy, explain the reason for the strategy and any results that you’ve gotten when you’ve taken a similar approach. Strong writing is important, but it’s meaningless without a solid content marketing strategy to get your words in front of your client’s readers. Explain the “why” and “how,” too, not just the “what”.

8. Create a Portfolio

Whether you use a full website, a WordPress page, a Pinterest board page or another type of online portfolio, start developing a digital repository of your clips now. Not only can it help with SEO, but it also provides potential clients with a taste of your writing style and illustrates your experience in the field. Here’s mine if you’d like a reference.

[bctt tweet=”Follow these 8 tips to make your transition from full-time to freelance as smooth as possible! #freelancelife #careeradvancement” username=””]

My business is the ultimate WIP, but I am encouraged and energized by the work that’s come my way and I’m committed to seeking out opportunities that allow me to grow both professionally and personally.

Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

 

Fa la la la Freelance_ 4 Reasons I Love Holidays as a Freelancer

Fa-La-La-La Freelance: 4 Reasons I Love Holidays as a Freelancer

The holidays are such a joyous time of the year for so many reasons! However, being burdened by a lack of control in the time department can put a serious damper on things. This is something I know all too well.

A microwavable turkey dinner, large coffee, and lots of tears. That was my Thanksgiving dinner on my first holiday working as a nurse. The reality of this new adult life hit me hard. I had gone from a glorious, responsibility-free college student to a night shift nurse at the bottom of the totem pole, working weekends and holidays.

It was time to accept the fact that I’d be missing my fair share of family events, I wouldn’t be out with my friends on New Year’s Eve, and I might even miss Christmas morning when I became a mom. It was circumstances like these that made me want more.

More freedom. More flexibility. More time. This is where my freelancing journey started and I’m incredibly grateful for said journey! Don’t get me wrong, the freelance life isn’t for everyone; it certainly comes with its own set of challenges. But there’s just no trade-off for the type of freedom you’re allotted when you work for yourself.

One of the greatest times to relish in the freelance life is the holidays, so I’d like to share with you the top reasons I’m so happy to be a freelancer this time of year!

No More Permission

As I covered above, freelancing equals freedom. There is no need to request off for your holiday break in July or try to switch holidays with a coworker because you are in total control over your work. And while that responsibility is intense, it helps to remember that it’s worth it.

Even if you have a busy workload, take advantage of this freedom. Schedule a midday massage or meet a friend for a weekday lunch. Spend a little time thanking yourself for all your hard work over the past year!

Flex Down

Because you have control over your workload and schedule, you have the freedom to take time off during the holidays. I love being able to take extended time off at the end of the year. When our daughter was a baby, I was working full time and out of vacation time due to maternity leave, but I still took almost two weeks off to be with her around Christmas.

Make a list of all of the fun holiday activities you love, but rarely have time for. Put them on the calendar, then schedule work around your personal and family time. You’ve worked hard to be your own boss, so be kind to yourself! Take time to go see Christmas lights, wrap gifts, send cards, and meet up with friends.

Flex Up

Maybe you prefer to take on more work during the holidays? The costs of presents and hosting can add up quickly, so having a little financial padding is a huge stress reliever. Fortunately for you, many of your freelancer colleagues are taking time off, so pitch away! You’ll have less competition, so go ahead and fill your client load to the max for the next few months.

If you find yourself working more during this time due to sheer necessity, don’t beat yourself up. Make a plan starting in January to set aside a little extra each month to be able to pay yourself vacation time in December 2018. Learning lessons the hard way is a big part of any entrepreneur’s journey!

Reflection

As a freelancer, your brain has a tendency to stay in overdrive. You have to pitch yourself, do the work, follow-up with clients, and figure out your budget. Doing it all makes it easy to get sucked into the day-to-day busy work and forget to take a step back to look at your entire business, but the holidays are a perfect time to reflect!

Make a list of all of your accomplishments, big or small. Did you land that big client, pay off your student loans, or cut back at your day job? It’s common to to hit your goals, then immediately move on, but you deserve more, so take this time to soak it all in.

Next, look at what didn’t go so well. What changes do you want to make in 2018? How would you like to grow? Perhaps you know that you no longer want to do social media for clients or you want to become more specialized. Don’t dwell on what didn’t go well; just chalk it up to experience and move on. Taking some reflection time will give you invaluable clarity as you move forward.

I could list plenty more things I love about the freelance life, but we wouldn’t have time to cover them all! What do you love about working for yourself? If you don’t work for yourself, but would like to, is there something about this time of year that motivates you to make the change? Share in the comments below!

And to all my freelancing friends out there – please take time to enjoy this wonderful time of the year! You’ve earned it!

 

Working With Freelancers: 7 Tips For Hiring Writers

There you are, looking around wondering how you’re going to get everything done on your to-do list.

You look down and see a writing task, then sigh, or maybe silently scream, because the truth is, you just don’t love writing. However, you know it’s an important part of the communication your business has with the world and needs to be done.  

An idea pops into your mind; you could hire a freelance writer to help you!

Hiring freelance writers to help with the tasks you don’t have time for is a great option! They can use their talents to help your business grow to the next level, while you focus on what you do best; running said business!

It’s not that simple though, is it? I mean, where do you even start? Have no fear, answers are here! Read on for a few points to consider before you hire a writer.

1. Clear Scope of Work

Before you hire a freelance writer, be sure to have a clear idea of the project. Experienced freelance writers are very good at picking up a project and running with it, but it makes a better relationship when you start off having a solid idea of what you are looking for.

Key parts of a writing job to have figured out in advance include:  

  • A working title 
  • Approximate word count
  • Style requirements
  • Keywords (at least a few to begin with)

2. Research Freelancers

Once you’ve decided to work with a freelance writer, do some research to find one whose writing style fits you, your brand and the message you want to convey. There are many ways to do this. If you’re looking in the healthcare niche, the Healthcare Marketing Network has fantastic writers!

You can also look on Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook. Just type in “freelance writer” in the search bar, and many people who identify themselves as freelance writers will pop up. Many freelancers who are on social media will also identify their niche, which makes it easier to find the perfect writer for your job.

Many freelance writers have online portfolios where you can read samples of their work. Taking the time to find a freelance writer who seems to be a good fit will help things go smoother.

3. Contract or Letter of Agreement

Freelance writers are encouraged to create contracts for all of the work they do. For shorter projects, a letter of agreement works well. A letter of agreement is shorter than a contract, but still requires two signatures and protects both parties and are written like a form letter.

Here are the relevant sections to include:

  • Services freelancer will provide
  • Services freelancer will NOT provide
  • Deadlines
  • Final deliverables
  • Delivery Terms
  • Payment Terms

4. Expect to Pay Upfront

There are many different payment arrangements in the freelance world. However, many freelance writers will ask to be paid up front. Some require a percentage before work begins and the remainder once a project is complete.  

Some will wait until work is complete to bill for their work, but be aware many will ask for at least a percentage of the total amount due before work begins.

5. Clear Deadlines

Whether you’re having a freelancer write a blog post or helping you write a novel, clear deadlines need to be addressed from the very beginning. For large projects with multiple parts, sit down and map out deadlines with the writer. For shorter projects, make sure a deadline is given and it will work with the writer’s schedule.

This may sound obvious, but sometimes when you talk with a writer, they agree to the work thinking they have plenty of time and things change, and everyone is upset because there was never a deadline set in the first place.  

6. Be Available

Once all the details are worked out, it’s crucial to remain available to answer any questions, comments, or concerns the writer may have.

From a freelance writer’s perspective, sometimes you begin a project thinking you have a good handle on everything, and something comes up you hadn’t discussed. If you can’t get ahold of the person you are writing for within a few days, it makes it hard to deliver by the preset deadline.

7. Be Aware of Scope Creep 

Sometimes, although you’ve spent a great deal of time mapping out the project, something comes up you want to add. When you add something, the scope of the project has changed, and you need to be willing to revisit the agreement and compensate the writer for the additional work.

One thing is certain; working with freelance writers is amazing! They’re very good at working independently and free up time for you to spend on other parts of your business, so you’ll never regret it! 

Looking to hire a writer? Take action today!

 

How Can a Freelance Writing Coach Help?

I’ve been a nurse for many years, a fiction author for a handful of them, and a writer all my life. After years of writing fiction, branching into non-fiction freelance writing seemed like a natural progression. With a goal of being able to efficiently, and effectively, write both fiction and freelance, I didn’t want to waste time with futile efforts that would only create more work for myself. But since I was already established with a website and on social media as a fiction author surely adding freelance writing would be easy, right? Right?

Easier Said Than Done

Although freelance and fiction writing share many similarities and a writer can benefit from the knowledge gained in either, there are also many differences. Balancing these two halves into a perfect whole can be a challenge and often combine like oil and water. I needed someone experienced who could take a look at my online presence from the outside. If only there was an expert who could give my hand a little squeeze of much needed reassurance.

Fortunately for my sanity, and me, I met Janine in the Healthcare Writers Network Facebook group and she was killing it as a nurse freelance writer. I was even luckier to win a coaching call with her through her company WriteRN.

Why Janine?

If you’re going to work closely with someone and share your insecurities and doubts, you want someone who is personable, friendly, your personal cheerleader and human(I.e.: Someone who can share reasonable and realistic methods to achieve goals. Because as much as I love to write about magic, so far I’ve not found it in the real world.) Janine is all of these things and more!

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Before our coaching call, I prepared questions about areas in freelance writing that required me to venture into new, unfamiliar territory, or terrain I’d let grow stagnant over the years. Sure I could do all of these things on my own, but was I doing it right to achieve the effect that I desired? Otherwise I was only wasting my time.

  • LinkedIn: Did I set up my page correctly to sound knowledgeable and professional?
  • Networking: How important is networking and where are the best places and methods for doing so?
  • Marketing: Where can I find clients for my niche and how do I sell them a winning pitch?
  • My Freelance Website: Does my new freelance website look sleek and professional and what tools and pages do I need to protect and grow my business?

You Might Know More Than You Think You Know

My venture into freelance writing had me spread in a multitude of directions trying to figure out how and what to start and when to stop. Talking with Janine helped me uncover clarity in my goals.

  • Confidence: Janine’s professional opinion ensured me where I was working in the right direction. That little virtual hand squeeze, or pat on the shoulder gave me additional confidence to proceed with plans I’d made.
  • Guidance and Advice: Her experience helped guide me where I should focus more attention to succeed in freelancing and other places that I didn’t need to worry about, thus saving me precious time.
  • Reassurance: Our coaching call enabled Janine to share more of her story about her success, and following along with her newsletter provided me with a role model.

Saving Time and My Sanity

There’s nothing I hate more than wasting time or money. Working with Janine enabled me to stop flitting away hours wondering what else I needed to do, and if I was doing it right when it came to freelance writing. Instead I have Janine’s coaching tips and tricks to fall back upon when I ponder the next steps in my freelance journey. Janine’s freelance path both inspires and reassures me that my efforts are worthwhile—and immense success is possible.

Thanks so much for reading and be sure to check out my new freelance website, Charmed Type. I’ve also published in paranormal romance and fantasy genres. Find out more about my novels on my website!

 

5 Steps To a Great Freelance Contract

Freelance work is becoming a much more popular option for people in industries such as computer support, marketing, advertising, and obviously writing. If you intend to head out and find your own freelance work, then you should be prepared to provide a contract for your client to review and sign. In most cases, your clients will not have freelance contracts available, and you want to protect yourself with a contract that outlines your agreement in detail.

Below you’ll find my 5 steps to writing a great freelance contract!

1. Keep It Simple

The preferred way of executing a contract is to work with an attorney to create a comprehensive template and then customize that template for each situation. However, if you cannot afford the services of an attorney or would prefer to handle it yourself, then you will want to develop a contract that protects you as much as possible. You can buy a standard work contract at any office supply store, or you can create your own.

If you decide to create your own contract, then be sure to keep the wording very simple. People have a tendency to include a lot of what they perceive to be legal language that makes the contract appear more official, which I wouldn’t recommend. If you don’t know what something means, I’d suggest leaving it out of your contract.

2. Discuss Copyrights

In most cases, clients will want to put their own name on your work. This is called ghostwriting, and it is common in the freelance world. Whether you are creating marketing designs or writing internet copy, you will want to clearly outline how the copyrights for your work will be handled. If you assign all copyrights to your clients, then remember that you cannot use that work for any other client.

3. Outline A Payment Schedule

Never leave any part of your compensation up to interpretation. Your client may feel comfortable developing payment arrangements on the fly, but that idea should make you very nervous. When you create your contract for a freelance client, you need to include every payment detail that applies. For special work, you can include an hourly work rate or other special arrangements. You should never agree to do work that does not have its compensation outlined in the contract.

4. Define The Quality Of Work Requirements

If you are a creative professional, then you might have freelance clients who ask for endless changes to your work before they agree to pay for it. If you are a service provider, then your client could refuse payment if they do not feel your efforts meet their quality standards. The easiest way to keep your customer happy is to outline those quality standards in your contract.

Your contract should outline exactly what your client expects of you, as well as how many revisions to your work are covered by the contract. If there are changes that need to be made to this section as your relationship with the client evolves, then make the changes within the contract and get the client to initial said changes.

5. Establish Deadline Policies

If you do not work on the weekends, then you need to put that in your freelance contract. Remember that you are not entitled to employee benefits, so you should be extremely specific about when you are available to work. If you work on projects, then be sure that there are deadlines set for every project to avoid having to wait an unknown amount of time for a project to be approved for payment.

Legal advice can be expensive, but it is also essential if you want to develop your own freelance work contracts. However, if talking to a lawyer to get real legal advice is not in your immediate budget, then you should be very careful in how you set up your contracts. By keeping the information simple and dealing with real issues such as pay and deadlines, you will be able to develop contracts that you can use to protect yourself and grow your business.

 

6 Tips To Success When Working For Past Employers

Lisa commented: I’m hoping I can pick someone’s brain. I work in home health and recently me former employer contacted me about updating the content on their website. She is open to looking at a contract for future services. Any suggestions on what should be included or things I should consider?

 

Lisa, thanks so much for your question! This has actually happened to me as well and I will walk you through exactly how I handled it!

 

1.  Thank her

Always, especially in this type of situation, thank the person for thinking of you. No matter the outcome, always thank her now, and in the end. A thank you goes a long way! I learned this back in my nursing aide days. I loved when people noticed or thanked me for my efforts, so nowadays I thank every single person I work with from the tray passer to my director!

2.  Schedule a time to meet

If you’re able to meet with her face to face, do it. Show up dressed like you’re going on a job interview, and try not to talk about your personal life or the previous job. Take on as much as you can to start and build upon it. I always say, never say no to a job because you never know where it could lead you!

3.  Get your portfolio together

If you don’t have a portfolio together, now’s the time to do it! I used Contently.com for my online portfolio, but I always include another type of printed article that I have had published (usually a few so they see what kind of work I do). Once it looks great give it to her to keep. Don’t just let her look at it and give it back because if it’s hers to keep she’ll likely file it somewhere for future work.

4.  Come with ideas

If you know what she wants for the website, come up with a few ideas. Show her how creative you can be! If you’re not really sure what she needs, try to think on your toes and give her great insight she can’t say no to!

5.  Rates

Oh gosh, the negotiation. I have grown slightly more comfortable with it over the years. It feels like confrontation to me, which I am not a fan of, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. Figure out your rates and what you won’t write for. Make sure you give yourself some wiggle room. She is most likely going to ask “how much do you charge?” Respond with confidence, and you will be surprised what she will say.

6.  Ask to be part of their meetings

If their website is looking for content to keep patients educated, or a blog to attract more patients, you can be an immense help to them. This can also work well for you because you’ll be able to have a retainer client, right in your own area! Ask to be a part of their website meetings in order to grasp exactly what they’re looking for, as well as what you can bring to the table!

 

Good luck in your adventure with this client, Lisa. Please keep us posted, I am very excited for you!

 

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